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TOEFL Listening Question Type- Categorizing

Categorizing questions ask you to sort key items from the lecture according to certain criteria. Some of the answers will usually be stated, whereas others will be implied, and the categories will usually differ from the most obvious ones mentioned in the lecture. Let’s take a look at an example.

First, you will listen to part of a lecture from a university classroom. When you’re ready, click the link below.

Five-minute lecture

The categorizing question for this lecture is in the form of a chart. Here are the instructions:

The professor describes various features of EMDR compared to other forms of therapy. For each of the following, indicate whether it is a feature of EMDR or of another form of therapy.

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For each item, check the appropriate box.

EMDROther Therapy
Focuses more on the mental state of patients than on bodily responses
May be slow in cases of multiple levels of trauma
Involves moving the eyes back and forth while looking at a beam of light


By looking at this chart by itself, you may assume that the lecture is about both EDMR and other kinds of therapy. However, the lecture focuses mainly on EDMR. The best approach to this question is to determine which statements are true about EDMR. Since you can only check one box for each statement, the ones that are not true for EDMR must be true for other therapies.

There are a few different types of categorization charts you might see on the TOEFL. The categorization chart above is one. Beside that, you might see charts that ask you to do any of the following:

  • Indicate whether the given statements are true or not (similar to the chart above, but with “yes” and “on” in each heading instead of topics)
  • Put events in order from first to last
  • Connect a few key terms to their definitions

These questions have slightly different appearances, but you do basically the same thing. To answer these questions correctly, it helps to have a bit of strategy. Read the chart twice: once to see all of the information, and a second time to fill in the answers. When you are going through and filling in the answers, start with the ones you’re most confident in. Save the stuff you’re unsure of for last. Doing that makes it easier to stay focused on one piece of information at a time and helps to build a bit of confidence.

Watch our explanation video for the answer to the question above and let us know what you think in the comments below!

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